Duck! The Rat, at a trade show, collects eggs and throws some

The Rat spent last week coaching the ratlings for the annual White House Easter egg
roll and setting his e-mail filter to screen out all hype of messianic proportions. That
was almost easy to do, thanks to the now-finally-no-longer-vapor Microsoft Exchange
messaging software that bounced into the bunker.

The Exchange developers were so proud that they all took the time to autograph each box
of software sent to the press. The Rat imagines their pride is equaled or exceeded by
relief that the whole thing finally is in the stores, considering that Exchange was
announced 22 long months ago.

The launch hype suffered a few setbacks, too. Bill Gates's planned satellite presence
failed to connect from NetWorld+Internet in Las Vegas to the FOSE trade show in
Washington, proving that even interdimensional beings have connectivity problems.

Now all the Microsofties have to do is figure out how to market Exchange in a
Notes-ified and intranetted world. The Web parts of Exchange still are being put together
and probably won't be shipped until late this year.

Same goes for the Exchange Internet News Connector, which will hook Exchange into
UseNet. No alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die on Exchange servers yet, the Rat
smirked. That would be a bit more than the filters could take.

The other big announcement was Microsoft's response to the Network PC, weirdly dubbed
the Simply Interactive PC, or SIPC--a product name rivaling ActiveX for the least inspired
of 1996. Putting an adverb together with an adjective and exceeding the three-letter limit
breaks all the canon laws of acronyms.

The Rat predicts that before it ever sees the light at the end of the vapor, the SIPC
will be compressed to ""sippy'' or ""sickly'' PC by the masses.
Somebody ought to check what those Redmond marketeers are putting in their latte, the Rat

Speaking of coffee derivatives, the coffee-related product names surrounding
Sunicrosystems' Java network application development language continue to pour in. Sun,
the caffeine-pusher that started the biggest arabica-based marketing madness since the
Taster's Choice couple first exchanged longing looks, has brewed yet another bean-based
name: the Java Object Environment, or Joe. And ILOG Inc. has promised a product for Java
with the most tangential reference to coffee yet.

At Software Development West in San Francisco, the company announced a C++
library-to-Java library conversion tool called TwinPeaks. It's named for the late lamented
television show that proclaimed every week, ""That's a damn fine cup of

Shoving aside his e-mail filters, the Rat started popping chocolate-covered espresso
beans and mused: Both Easter and spring trade shows happen every year, but their actual
dates are determined by arcane calendar systems.

At Easter, a fictional long-eared rodent delivers brightly wrapped candy. At spring
trade shows, companies with fictional products deliver brightly wrapped demo CD-ROMs.

That's not all. The Easter bunny and Bill Gates have similar itinerary problems. Kids
binge on Easter candy and then feel sick to their stomachs, while customers at trade shows
hear migration strategies and upgrade prices, then feel sick to their stomachs.

Easter candy makes children hyperactive. Trade show season makes software marketeers

The rodent was roused from his reflections as the ratlings flung undercooked Easter
eggs at the back of his head. He had a feeling that high-tech PR firms had tried to do the
same. Perhaps the Easter bunny should have brought them Ritalin this year.

he Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace.

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